The criminally charged parents of Ethan Crumbley, the 16-year-old suspect in last year's deadly mass shooting at a high school in Oxford, Michigan, really don’t want the jury in their case to know the shooting was allegedly about politics.
On Wednesday, lawyers defending the parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, against involuntary manslaughter charges stemming from the deaths their son is charged with filed a motion to block his journal from being admitted as evidence in their upcoming trial.
“Hopefully my shooting will cause Biden to get impeached,” Ethan Crumbley allegedly wrote in one entry, according to a Detroit Free Press report. The filing said he also predicted that his actions would be so devastating that "sleepy" Joe Biden — invoking one of former President Donald Trump's oft-used insults for the president — would have to apologize.
Crumbley and his parents have pleaded not guilty to charges connected to the massacre. Prosecutors alleged the parents bore some responsibility for the shooting by failing to reasonably care for their son when he showed signs of mental distress and for buying him the gun he allegedly used in the attack.
The journal entries “risk the danger of turning jury deliberations into a political debate,” their lawyers wrote, claiming “Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley should not be found guilty or not guilty depending on the attitudes of the jurors about Presidents Biden and Trump.”
“Political beliefs have no legitimate role in this trial,” the defense attorneys wrote.
But, boy, do they.
Following the shooting, news reports indicated Crumbley’s mom previously posted anti-immigrant, pro-Trump and pro-gun views in a blog. Given that, the idea that their son allegedly waged an explicitly political attack seems extremely relevant to a trial gauging their culpability. But apparently that’s not the only damning detail a jury stands to learn from looking through Crumbley’s journal.
The Detroit Free Press reported he allegedly wrote in one of his journal entries that he would "cause the biggest school shooting in Michigan’s history" and would "kill everyone" he sees.
"I have fully mentally lost it after years of fighting my dark side," the teen allegedly wrote. "My parents won’t listen to me about help or a therapist."
It’s hard to think of a more damning statement in this case. No wonder the lawyers want the journal excluded. But they also claimed their clients wouldn’t get a fair trial if jurors read a bunch of Crumbley’s other writings about his intent. According to the filing, that includes his claim that “the first victim has to be a pretty girl with a future so she can suffer just like me.” And in another writing, Crumbley said he wanted “to hear the screams of the children as I shoot them,” the filing said.
Earlier this week, I wrote about the need for a national discussion about how white parents combat the violent extremism that can take root in their own homes. In the Crumbley case, we’re seeing parents who apparently did the opposite.